Summer flavours with veal specialties

Having an extremely quality structure, veal rightfully enjoys royal status among meat delicacies. Being an indispensible ingredient, it was always prepared for most special occasions and it has greatly influenced both Central European and Mediterranean cuisines. The history of Croatian gastronomy features phenomenal veal specialties such as Zagreb Schnitzel and all kinds of peka (a blend of vegetables and meat drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with herbs, and then baked to perfection under a bell-like dome), Skardin risotto and plenty of others.

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Exceptional ingredients demand exceptional chefs so it comes as no surprise that amateur chefs are apprehensive when preparing veal as experience is everything. Aside from knowing which meat parts are used in a particular dish, good knowledge of how to thermally process the ingredients holds the key to preparation.

Veal is the meat from calves up to twelve months old weighing 25 to 125 kilogrammes. At butcher’s shops it is distinguished by its bright pink colour. It mostly consists of muscles with very little fat. The healthy fats contained by veal meat make it the healthiest kind of red meat and it’s recommended to include it in your diet.

If you skim through cookbooks, you’ll find numerous specialties prepared from muscle cuts or offal. Given the season when you prepare the dish, choose the recipes you’re going to make. When it comes to veal, bear in mind that this is a type of red meat possessing a mild flavour so it would be good to used gentler and lighter seasonings. As far as summer barbecues go, tender leg parts and fillets would make the best choice. The meat doesn’t take long to prepare or it will become tough. Veal stew in tomato sauce or meat balls with minced meat are top summer specialties and be sure to try preparing veal with tuna, mayonnaise, capers and anchovy sauce. This dish is served cold during summer. After cooking it for a long while in a pot, the veal is sliced into thin steaks and served with a creamy sauce.Image author: Thinkstock

In addition to traditional specialties often included by restaurants in their menus, it’s becoming increasingly common to try modern renditions of these dishes, as well as new ideas put forward by up-and-coming young chefs. Chefs from our restaurants shared with us how they plan on preparing veal this summer. Tavern “Mate“ in the island of Korčula is a typical Dalmatian tavern situated in the small town of Pupnat near Vela Luka. Aside from the top-notch food, you can experience the island’s scenic beauty and the owners’ hospitality. It is this sincerity that is attracting an ever-increasing number of guests from around the world. The tavern’s delicacies caught the attention of Michelin inspectors, who recommended it in their map. Chef Biljana Miline shared their veal cheeks specialty with us.

- Veal is a very delicious type of meat. Veal cheeks are a tougher piece of meat and need to be prepared longer in order to get a tender and delicious dish. First we lightly fry the veal cheeks in olive oil. In another pan we fry some garlic and diced carrots and celery separately. The we put everything together in pot in which it will be oven-baked. Aside from veal cheeks and fried root vegetables, we add some Plavac, soup and laurel. We put everything in the oven for three and a half hours at 150°C. Once everything’s done, we take out the meat, we pass the vegetables and serve it with celery and cauliflower purée. The purée is very simple to make. We cook the celery, add the cauliflower, blend it all together and then we add some butter, salt and nutmeg - Biljana told us.Image author: Thinkstock

Restaurant Muzej okusa is situated in Osijek’s Gradski vrt in a beautiful edifice built in the late-19th century. The impressive edifice is accompanied by an exceptional dedication to all segments of gastronomy ranging from a superb wine list to the menu, which represents an innovative and modern concept of interpreting classic Croatian ingredients. Their devotion to developing gastronomy has been rewarded by a Michelin recommendation. In addition to numerous autochthonous varieties and breeds, chef Ivan Adžić has included veal in his menu. Veal is an indispensible meat ingredient of Croatian cuisine and, when given a modern twist, you end up getting new and exceptional flavours.

- Veal is an exceptional ingredient. We’re talking about high-quality meat that contains healthy fat. We always obtain fresh meat so I let it “rest” for a few days before marinating or preparing it. The meat needs to age so as to remove excess blood. Veal always goes great with milder marinades with lighter herbs such as thyme, white wine, etc. When it comes to our menu, guests can choose from slowly roasted veal served with aromatised mashed potatoes with tonka beans or nutmeg. In order to prepare this dish, we use boneless veal breast seasoned only with salt and pepper. We firmly tie the meat with string and press it on all sides, then we oven-bake it for four hours at 130°C. After it’s roasted, we put it in sous vide for about ten minutes at 80°C. Finally, we grill it for a few seconds on each side. Then we season the meat’s juice with some fresh thyme and pour it over the meat – Adžić described.Image author: Thinkstock

Restaurant Mazzgoon is undoubtedly one of the more popular restaurants in Split. It’s packed throughout the years and they’re always coming up with new and interesting dishes in order to live up to their reputation and the trust placed in them by their guests. When preparing new dishes, they often draw inspiration from traditional recipes. Restaurant owner Sara Alfirević Vrsalović shared with us their new menu and the veal dishes included in it.

- As far as our current menu goes, guest can choose from a dish called teletina u vodenoj kupelji, šalša u šporko i pire od krumpira. We use veal belly cooked sous-vide to prepare teletina u vodenoj kupelji. Šalša is prepared from tomatoes, red and green peppers and pickled capers. It’s prepared so you can feel the vegetable chunks while you eat it. The purée is made from potatoes and turnip and it vital that it be creamy – she told us.Image author: Thinkstock